Monday, March 27, 2017

15mm Actions in Afghanistan

My first game of the year was kind of an odd critter.  First, I found myself playing a conflict that I have generally avoided on the table top, the US war in Afghanistan.  Second, the game was played against a veteran of the war in Iraq.  And third, it was his first miniatures game or wargame of any type.  Oh, and as it turned out, we played three games.

_______

The first scenario was fairly simple, if improbable, involving a broke-down Humvee, who's crew tries to hold out until relief can come and whisk them away.  The idea was to keep the scenario small to act as a learning tool for the game process and rules. As it turned out, the newbie caught on quickly, and the scenario played out equally fast.

As the American player had never played or even seen a miniature wargame before, I offered an overview of the rules mechanics for my home-brew rules, and tried to explain the process enough that he felt almost ready to begin.  My rules are very free-flowing, with very short turns.  Basically, I just told him to do what he would do in the real world, and I'd explain how it translated to the table top as we went.

A pre-game view of the table, looking towards the point of US entry.

The American player had a single Humvee and five man crew, that broke down some distance from an Afghan village.  They called in for assistance, and the dice dictated that help would arrive after a "short "time.

I played the Afghan insurgents, which I have to admit felt a little odd, receiving 11 fighters per the die roll. As luck would have it, all with AKs, no MGs or RPGs.

The American player, a veteran of the US Army, and of service in Iraq, fell back on his real world training, setting up a defensive perimeter with his crew, explaining his troops actions, intent and fields of responsibility and fire.

My Afghans took a few turns to respond, moving slowly at first, and then more aggressively.  Rules of engagement dictated that the Americans could only fire if attacked, and I watched the American player tense up, not really knowing what to expect, as the distance closed.

My Afghans finally opened fire, with the Americans returning fire. After a couple of very intense turns,  the Americans took a casualty, but managed to inflict about a half dozen on my Afghans.  Ma Deuce and the M249 did their job, resulting in a morale failure on the Afghan part, and a withdrawal.

The Humvee broke-down in the road with US troops adjacent and in the nearest
 ruined walls.  Afghans are at the bend in the stream (one casualty lays in the stream),
in the ruined walls to the front of the Americans, and near the bend of the wall
nearest the town.

The American player followed his training, and rather than stretching out his force in pursuit of my straggling Afghans, as many gamers would, said that he would secure his perimeter and get attention to his wounded soldier. 

The relief would arrive in about two minutes time. The Americans survived, inflicting six KIA at the cost of one moderate wound.  The scenario had been won; he was ready for the next battle.

Despite the small size of the scenario, I really hadn't expected the game to go so fast, and I wasn't sure that he would like it enough to want to game again.
_____

We had a little after-action discussion, and decided to do a little larger action in the second run.  The American player suggested a column of Humvees going to the village and sweep it of unfriendly forces. 

The American force consisted of four Humvees with a mix of M2, M240, and Mk19s and their crews.  The Afghans received 21 fighters via the blessing of the holy dice.  I also rolled the dice, 50/50 that the Afghans would ambush the column v. occupy the town.  Ambush it was.

So, Americans entered from the table edge, and quickly sighted part of my Afghan force hiding the stream bed to the American right.  Surprised at the close proximity of the Afghans, the Americans swung their turrets around, and continued to roll at speed through the Ambush zone.  This forced my Afghans to open up early, with my two RPGs luckily hitting the trailing two Humvees. 

One RPG hit the turret, taking out the M2 and gunner immediately, the other hit the passenger compartment of the Humvee, causing only one significant wound. The gunner on the Mk19, successfully took out three Afghans right away, including my only MG and one of my RPGs.

A view of the second battle, on the movement phase of the
 turn after firing started.  The two rear Humvees hit, and the
first three Afghan casualties suffered.

Again, the American player relied on his real world experience and training, maneuvering the lead Humvees around in their reaction. 

On the next turn the Afghans could cause only a single wound to the Americans, and began taking a beating from the three heavy weapons on the Humvees, and their crews.  After about a minute of intense short range fire, the Americans went from the fear of the unknown, shock of the Ambush, and loss of two Humvees, to hitting 18 of my 21 insurgents despite their cover.  It was wicked.

The No.2 Humvee has circled back to help protect casualties,
while the No.1 Humvee is out of view to the left dicing up my Afghans.

The scenario ended with my three survivors leaving their many wounded comrades to bleed out in the stream bed, while the Americans secured their perimeter and tended to their casualties.

The scenario over, Afghan casualties litter the stream,
while the three survivors run away.

Again, the scenario ended quickly, and after a brief discussion, we decided to play a third game.
____

The third scenario was larger yet, and reversed our rolls somewhat.  I added a little more foliage to the table, and the Americans would provide security in the village for a meeting with some local leaders.  The American player would have three Humvees and crews, and 17 local friendlies.  My attacking force would consist of 46 (per the dice) insurgents, including four RPGs and a couple of MGs.

Scenario 3; the same map with a little extra foliage.

The American player established the house in which the meeting would take place, and set up his defenses.  My insurgents advanced from the far edge of the board.   We probably could have just had me set up several moves into the table, but I wanted to give the newbie a chance to go through the sighting process, and gain an appreciation for how the foliage and clutter on the table impacted line of sight, relative to the bird's eye view we have as gamers looking down at the table.  For all of these games, we were using periscopes to establish LOS of for the figs.


A couple of views showing the initial deployment of friendly
forces protecting the village.

I decided to move most of my force up the Afghan left side, with about a squad worth of fighters advancing along the stream bed.  My hope was to get the large force into the village and overwhelm the enemy with numbers at close range.  The smaller force on the on the right would be used to simply hold American forces in position, and allow me to gain a big numerical advantage on the left.

My insurgents advancing in the stream bed.

Ever notice how plans seldom work out as planned?

Slowly, my defenders of the faith advanced on the village.  In time, they were sighted by the locals and the fracas began.  Like the real world, a lot of ammo was expended with few rounds finding their targets. 

As the turns passed, more insurgents joined in, and a nasty firefight developed on the left side of the village.   Despite gaining the numerical superiority that I desired, my ineptitude went on display, and his well placed Humvee with M2, and few friendly Afghans took a heavy toll on my force. 

The battle begins to take shape on the Afghan left.

On the right, the plan sort of worked for awhile, with both Afghan insurgent and US/friendly forces either being blind or firing blanks.  A lot of shots resulted in remarkably few casualties, but in time, protected by superior cover, the Allied force started to pick off my guys in the stream bed. 

The Afghan group on the right, kept the Allied forces honest for
 awhile, but just couldn't hit anything.

After the second game, the American player was quite concerned about RPGs, but the third game showed how fickle they and the dice could be, with my first three, relatively short ranged, high probability shots all missing.

In time the RPGs did take out a couple of the Humvees, and many of the Allied force (though I think only three Americans) fell to fire, but again the insurgents couldn't mass enough fire fast enough, and took a pounding.  Despite good morale/leadership rolls for several turns, the Afghans finally broke and being in such close quarters, my remaining 10 or so leaderless fighters surrendered to the Americans.

I think the allied side had about 13 casualties, pretty heavy at around 40%, but only two confirmed KIA that I can remember. They probably would have been another half 4-6 KIA amongst the friendlies, though we didn't have need to work that out.  The insurgents took 36 casualties, with many having the misfortune of being cut up by .50 cals, or otherwise spending a lot of time bleeding out, before they might have received any help from the Americans.

Expensive maybe, but the Americans and their allies had their third victory of the day, stopping the attack, and successfully protecting the Afghan leaders.
______

So in the end, I got my butt handed to me three times in one day by a newbie, and more importantly, I think the hobby has a new convert.  Sorry the photos don't follow the action better, but I was using my phone, and ended up with a lot of blurry and pixelated photos.

Friday, February 3, 2017

I'm A Scout From Floyd ( A Post Apocalyptic Introduction from the After)

I was born in the After, so never knew the world  Before.  When I was real little, we had a hard time, trying to get enough food, and get drinkable water to keep us alive.  Lot of people moved around, but we stayed in one place. My folks tried to protect our homes, mostly broken down shacks built in what was left from Before. 

When I was about 8, my Pa got shot with an arrow.  The nurse lady kept him from dying though. Well, sort of.  He was never really the same afterwards, and he died about two or three years later.  Things got better though.  People worked together, things started to change. 

My town is call Floyd.  I know, sounds like a dude, but its a town, and now we do okay.  We got water, food, schools, and even a clinic with a doctor.  Its pretty safe now.  Probably mostly because of the Confederation and Territorial Guard.  Before that, things was a lot tougher; gangs would pass through killin' and takin' what they want.  Lot of people died like my Pa.  Happened pretty regular.  But that all changed with the Confederation.

The Confederation has been trying to expand, trying to make people more civilized, maybe make it more like before.  Before the end, I mean.  And me, I'm a soldier in the Territorial Guard.  Actually, I'm a scout.  I like it; because, I get to ride around in a "Chupacabra", a little armored truck.  We call it the "Goat".

Affectionately known to their crews as "The Goat",
the M11 Mk1 Chupacabra armored car.


There are three of us in the Goat; Panky is the commander, Sam drives, and me, Charley, I'm the gunner and pretty much everything else.  Mostly we do surveying and mapping,  check on people or things, and carry messages or things like medicine around.  Sometimes we actually get to scout, but that only happens when someone is trying to attack us, usually a big gang or something.  The best thing though, is when we get to explore.


Scouts in the Territorial Guard, and the crew of the Goat,
Panky, Charlie, and Sam.


We have old maps, and they help a lot, but a lot has changed too.  Places aren't the same, I know there's a lot less people, and sometimes things like rivers aren't where they are supposed to be.  They say that things must have changed a lot up north, for stuff like that to happen. I don't know.  I like exploring the ruins, finding things from the past, finding what and who was there.  It must have been amazing in the Before.

We find new towns and people too.  Usually they get excited when they see us, though usually pretty cautious at first, too.  But after they get talkin' to us, they relax a little, and we mostly make friends and do a little tradin'.  Once in awhile, we get threatened or shot at.  Usually we just avoid those places and note it on the map.

When we cover new territory, we map it with our Drone.  We have this little flying drone that we carry, it takes pictures and can survey the land.  Then we take the survey back, and the TG updates the maps.  We can also use it to scout things out for us, but we got to be careful.  We let it get out of range once, and had to go chasing after it.  Panky was not too happy that day.

I like being in the Guard; it's a good life for me.  Don't know what I'll do when I get too old for it, but for now at least, I'm a scout from Floyd.

Monday, January 30, 2017

AFTER: An Introduction to My Post Apocalyptic World

For quite some time, I've been working on a campaign set in a post apocalyptic world.  Getting to the starting point has been a very slow process, but I am finally here.  The following is an introduction to the post apocalyptic world in which my game campaign takes place:

_________

The world ended with a whimper.  There was no single global event that placed its stamp on the end of the world.  It was more of a drawn out unraveling of social order and structure.  And while no single calamitous event could claim to be the cause, many predictions of the doom-sayers contributed to the collective failing of humanity.

As the world embraced technology, people found that through this technology, they had a voice.  As it turned out, the loudest voices came from those who dissented the most.  Thus, instead of bringing the world together as a global community, technology inadvertently succeeded in cutting the world up into an ever growing number of angry, fearful little islands.

This fragmentation had many negative effects, including that of disrupting productivity and trade, bringing about a global recession.  The recession turned into depression, food and medicine became scarce, global famine and disease started to take a huge toll.  Wars sprouted, governments failed, and nuclear weapons and all sorts of chemical and biological agents fell into the hands of feudal warlords.  Chaos abounded, and many, many people died. 

In the span of a generation, the many billions of earth's population were reduced to millions.  To further compound  humanity's problems, the abandoned and ruined remnants of man's enterprises brought about environmental catastrophes and geological anomalies, literally changing the face of the planet.

In the After, society ceased to exist. 

But, alone and miserable, a few people somehow survived.  And in time, a few, here and there, came together, and they began to rebuild the world.   Rag-tag bands of scavengers grew into villages, incorporating tools and resources from the Before.  In some places, villages grew into towns and even cities, and rarely, cities united and created loosely governed territories.  And that is the state of world in the After.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Progress on my 28mm Sci-Fi Recce Cars

I've made some progress on my Sci-fi scout cars and thought I'd share a few pix.  Painting them has not been altogether successful, as I used a couple of paints that I hadn't used before, and had problems with transparency, multiple coats and streaks in the paint. Anyway, here is how they sit at the moment:

 
 
 

That's an old GW plastic Imperial Guardsman in there for scale.  Hoping to get them weathered and done next weekend.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

First Fighters for Star Fleet Battles

One of my ongoing projects is to bring Star Fleet Battles to my table top in miniature form.  I had been concerned about how to do this, as Amarillo Design Bureau only offers a few models to represent the many different fighters in SFB.

I asked on TMP, who might make a variety of small space fighter miniatures and was directed to GZG or Ground Zero Games, who have an amazing range of model space ships and fighters for the Full Thrust rules system. As it turned out,  I received a nice selection of GZG space fighter models for Christmas, and have painted up a few as a test run for size comparison, basing method etc, and thought that I'd share a couple of pix. These are from pack FT-101B (New Anglian Confederation), and will being used as Klingon fighters in my SFB.

Two Klingon fighters pictured with a US one cent pieces and an ADB
Klingon D-5 War Cruiser (Starline 2400) for size comparison.

And pictured again, this time with Klingon D5 and F6, and a
Kzinti Medium Cruiser.

My wife (who is not a gamer) instructed me to inform everyone that GZG was wonderful to deal with, and that the service was spectacular, getting the items out and across the Atlantic in just over a week at Christmas time.

I'm pretty happy with the fighters and think that they will work well for my purpose.  I cut the 5/8 inch hex bases from styrene for these, but have since ordered 15mm plastic bases from Minairons (as I don't want to hand cut 200 hex bases), and will get a bunch more of these ready to go once the bases arrive.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

28mm Sci-fi Recce Cars Update

When I went searching for my last post about these, I was shocked to find that it was nearly two years old.  I stopped work on these as I needed to either make of find wheels for them, and finally did, but can't believe that they set on my painting table for what turned out to be a 23 month search. 

Anyway, as part of my "finish unfinished projects" crusade, I managed to make some headway on these yesterday. When I started, they looked like this:



After today, they look like this:

 
 
 
 
 

They are two variations of the same basic vehicle.  A light armored car used by a regional military in my post apocalyptic world.  The idea is that they are recycled, pre-apocalypse gas guzzlers, rebuilt as electric exploration/mapping and recce vehicles, with various added gizmos for their new role.  That's an old GW Imperial Guard fig (circa 1989) in there for some sense of scale/size.

There are some other bits and some baggage that will be added during or after painting.  With any luck, I've have some shots of the table-ready vehicles to share in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Reflecting on 2016; Considering 2017

2016 ended up being a year of almosts.  A few projects were almost completely ignored, WWII East Front, France 1940, and 20mm Vietnam.  Others received more attention in the form of planning, miniatures acquisitions/painting, and rules writing that almost brought them to the table;  Star Fleet Battles, Cold War, Post Apocalypse, and Near Future.  And one almost went according to plan;  Modern Africa. 

Particularly in the second half of the year, I made some headway, playing seven games in a six week span, getting a set of modern air combat rules onto the table, and getting a full scale war launched in my modern African campaign.

A near future project that I've envisioned for decades, gained momentum in the form of planning, rules and figure acquisitions.  Its close proximity and interwoven nature with my Post Apocalypse world means that both often get a boost from work on either.  My PA game is so close to happening that I can feel the oppressive heat of the wasteland sun stealing my breath.


In 2017 I am going to try to focus a little more narrowly than in the past year.  I had targeted eight projects over the past year, but only made any real progress on five of them.  I figure that those are the five nearest and dearest to my gaming heart for now, and will focus on them in the new year:

15mm Modern Africa Imagi-nations
I plan to fight more of the battles between Mugabia and Uwanda.  In just the opening battles of the broader conflict, each side has realized an significant oversight that may heavily impact the progress and direction of the conflict.  And, with the manifestations of the oversights, the likelihood of outside intervention grows, on land and in the air.

28mm Post Apocalypse
 I have rules, story-lines,  characters, and figures for 22 factions in my post-apoc world.  I only have to get some terrain and other bits finished (and make a place to store it), before the adventure can begin.  My game will be launched in the coming year.  I hope to share it on my blog, as a series a stories told from the vantage point of various characters in the game.

28mm Near Future
This is a less ambitious project than my PA world, but involves a number of factions for light-hearted adventures in a near future setting.  Set in and around a southwestern Hollywood town, adventures will range from squabbles between locals and out-of-towners to espionage to zombies to alien invasions. The plan is to finish building the game in 2017 for presentation as a convention game early in 2018.

6mm and 15mm Cold War
I am a child of the Cold War, and have been fascinated with the hypotheticals since the early 1970s.  The goal this year will be to field armies of 4-5 nations circa 1982 on completed battlefields by the end of the year.

Star Fleet Battles
A fan of the boxed rules and three expansions from the early 1980s (pre-Captain's Additions), over the last year, I have been working to get this onto the table in miniature in a way that I have envisioned since about 1982.  An old friend and I are chasing this, and will be experimenting with adaptations to the rules to better accommodate the SFB rules with miniatures later in the year.


So these are the main goals, probably as unrealistic and unattainable as always, but it never hurts to dream.  Other projects may creep in as the mood strikes me, as Victorian Piracy and adventure, the jungles of Vietnam, and battles of 1940 and the Eastern Front are never far from my heart.